Let me introduce myself. My name is Rachel. I live in a small town in the North East of England called Durham. Its a place oozing historical value, what with it's Catherdral and Castle...and a few statue's of dead guys that fought in an important battle or whatever in the 1600's. Anywho...
...i'm around 5"3, slim build, brown/blonde hair and blue/green eyes. I have a wicked sense of humour, a real zest for life (well most of the time...but more of that later), and an admirable drive and determination to achieve my life long dream of becoming a successful model like my idol...Katie Price. Oh...but i forgot to mention!!!! The very thing that succumbs my being...the single essense that makes Rachel, Rachel...the individual entity that truely composes who i am...
...ACNE!!!! (cue dramatic music: dum, dum, duuuummmmmm)
Thats right folks...i'm an acne sufferer, and a bloody miserable one at that! What acne sufferer isn't? After all, it has been recognised as one if not, THE most impressionable (and not a very good one) disease ever, causing it's victim, i believe is the appropriate word, to become isolated, withdrawn, depressed, angry, frustrated, even suicidal in worst cases, to name a few! So to say acne victims find coming to terms with having the disease, aswel as trying to prevent and cure it a hard battle, is a freakin understatement!
You see...thats why i've been regularly 'lurking' this website. Because within it i have found a 'friend' if you will. A 'friend' that not only shares it's many experiences with acne and acne treatments throught it's troubled years, but also a 'friend' that i can identify myself with, and almost see myself in it's mirrored image. And so it starts...the official relationship between Rachel and the members of Acne.org...and the best place to start...why...at the beginning of course!
I dont really remember alot of my childhood. I do know that it is an unhappy memory however. I think thats why i've blocked it out of my brain. Most children spend their days playing with friends, learning to ride their bikes or having pretend picnics with their teddybears in the park(males included...oh come on guys dont act like you didnt.hehe)! But i dont remember any of that. Tell a lie...i do remember learning how to ride a bike...without stabilizers. What a disaster!
Oh i feel a flashback coming on (cue: blurred vision and psychadillic music)
My mother took me to the top of a relitavely steep hill in our local grave yard (hhmmm inappropriate surroundings me thinks), and while holding on to the back of my My Little Pony (oh yeah...i was cool) pink bike seat, told me to count to 3, and brake when i was nearing the bottom of the bank. With my full body armour on (i'm not kidding.knee pads, elbow pads, helmet, shin guards, you name the protection,i had it on) and no sense of fear in my body what-so-ever, i began to count. 1...2...and before i got to 3...my mother let go...and off i went, plumeting down the hill at a rate of notts. The hot summer wind scraping back my flushed chubby cheeks, the pedals of the bikes creating smoke as they whipped around in circles beneath my widespread legs, and my eyes clamped firmly shut (smart move Rachel, smart move). I swear...you can still see the imprint of the wire fencing grid on the side of my right cheek to this day. Needless to say...my first bike riding experience was not a pleasant one.
No teddybear picnics for Rachel, no hanging out with my little baby friends in the swimming pool (dont even get me started on my first swimming lesson. Holding on to the side of the pool and walking up and down the shallow end for half an hour does not qualify as swimming Rachel), just lonely, isolated little ol' me. But i guess thats how i liked it. My own company always seemed more fun than that of others. Probably because i never judged myself like others did when they were around me. I never made fun of myself if i wanted to play with Ken instead of Barbie. I never thought it weird that i wanted to kick a football around a field as apposed to staying in and baking make believe cookies on my easy-bake oven. And never once did i assume that it was wrong to dress up as Princess Jasmine and recite all of the lines from Aladdin to my family and pretty much, whoever would watch over and over again. I was my own person. And i liked it. So there. Ha!
And then...1998...the beginning of the rest of my life. Comprehensive school. GCSE's, boyfriends, trying smoking, cutting class...bullying. And i mean BULLYING. I never use that term lightly. Likewise, i do not take bullying lightly. It is a cruel and monsterous form of physical and mental torture that no individual should ever have to 'put up with'. My bullies in particular followed one very powerful young...well...i wouldnt call her a lady as she doesnt deserve such a delicate and feminine title...lets say...animal...that seemed to be the ring leader as it were, spell-binding almost all of the year groups students into some sort of pack of ravaging wolves that would feast on my weakness and misery. At first i dismissed it. I didnt have a problem with being different. In fact, i quite liked it. I prided myself on it. I was'nt a robot or sheep. I didnt 'follow the crowd'. And i certainly would never become a fellow bully like her and her minions, all of which were incapable of being an individual.
Then everything changed. My body being the biggest benefactor. I hit puberty. I was 12. My whole world collapsed. My everything was turned upside down. I developed acne. My skin went from being a beautiful sheet of clear porcelian with a light sprinkling of feckles, to a red, angry, pus filled oil tank that literally crushed and ruined my life. Cysts the size of Cuba covered my cheeks, nose and chin. Tiny pinhead pimples dotted about my entire face and neck. A 'sunburnt like' rash plagued every crevice of my features, not leaving an area untouched. My heart was shattered. My confidence dented. My social life...gone. 'Pizza-face', 'crator-face', 'ugly bitch'...the names still cut through me like a knife.
Everyday was a constant struggle. I often faked illnesses to skip school so i could hide under my covers and cry when my mother left for work. From 8.30am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday, i got taunted, teased, meliciously picked upon for the remainder of my time in comprehensive school...or as i like to call it...the closest thing you'll ever get to hell on Earth. Even my time out of school, for example, the summer holidays, was spent sitting amongst my bullies who would coax me out my domain and sanctuary to beat me up and call me silly, childish, hurtful names. Physically i think i could of taken it. Whats a bruise or scrape here and there? Mentally i could take no more. I became the moodiest, most depressed, isolated young woman ever to walk God's green Earth who would stay up all night fantasizing about a time when her skin would get better and let her have a life. A time when her bullies would dissapear off the face of the Earth so she didnt have to deal with their cruelty anymore. A time in the near future where she would be happy, and joyeous, and free from acne.
And just to put the cherry on the cake...no treatments worked. Over a period of 2 to 3 years i tried numerous gels, lotions, creams, over the counter 'cures', herbal supplements and even at-home-remedies but to no avail. My first antibiotical treatment (Erythramicin) which, was prescribed to me when i was 14, took around a year to a year and a half to kick in and start making a difference to my appearance by which time, i was ready to depart from my prison walls and begin college. Wohoo! A NEW beginning. A college far, far away which, i purposely chose so as to rid myself of the demons haunting my exsistance. My acne however, never left me. It stuck around like an annoying younger brother or sister. It was everywhere i turned. It dominated my entire world. I'm sure many of you reading this will agree and relate. Acne is an attention seeking disease that causes its sufferers to think about its ugly self CONSTANTLY. It has a strong, forceful hold on its prisoners every emotions, thoughts and actions that control one's everyday activities and tasks. Until...
...3 months ago.
But before i get into the 'happy, go-lucky' stage of my final teenage years...let me continue the misery.
***** HOW ACNE EFFECTED ME THROUGHOUT PUBERTY *****
1. I RARELY left the house. My bedroom was my sanctuary where i could lose myself in fantasies and make believe. Only to have my dreams demolished when 'reality' (outside my bedrooms 4 walls) slapped me hard in the face.
2. I had NO friends. Bar 1. Every person within my year group had a dig at me one time or another. Some having worse intentions and more time to bully me than others.
3. The world was my enemy. Or so i thought. Acne sufferers know all to well that the self-conciousness that comes along with being under it's control means that one observes the human race and it's behaviour very closely. Most coming to the conclusion that humans stare or oogle at those who have visible 'deformalities'...or so acne would have you believe.
4. There is seriously NO treatment capable of ridding me of this disguisting disease. I have in all seriousness tried every available acne treatments. Many prescriptive drugs, herbal supplements, MANY, MANY, MANY over the counter remedies, gels, lotions, creams, laser treatment more recently (N-Lite) and at home acne 'cures' that have turned out to be a total bust.
5. Acne made me a very agressive person. I would often lash out at family members or total strangers who annoyed me. On more than one occasion i have trashed my room, braking expensive and sentimental things in pure frustration. Not good.
6. Acne is a life threatening disease. Many times during my puberty stricken years did i contemplate and come very close to suicide because i was so low and desperately losing control. It also caused me to develop bulimia which, fortunately i took control of quickly and efficiently. Something i am extremely proud of.
7. I was never happy. Ever. Not even at Christmas. Or my birthday. Infact, i dreaded seasonal holidays and special occasions. Why? Because someone, somewhere always had a camera that i had to reluctantly smile (as fake as press on nails) for and grimace over the pictures later.
8. Acne had control. It was and still is boss. It dominated my life in every way, shape and form.
ACNE four little letters. Easy to say. Destroyer of worlds. Killer of souls.
********** ACNE GONE? SHUT THE F UP! **********
I couldnt believe it. It was gone. I woke up one morning about 3 months ago and not a pimple imperfected my face. Not one. My skin was flawless. I was beautiful. I was confident. I was H-A-P-P-Y! I was...due to go to the dermatologist at 3.00pm...bugger...she'll think i'm havin a laugh. I booked this appointment about a month ago when my acne was so bad i thought i was sure to endure a life of endless crying, locking myself away in my room and becoming a herbit. Never mind. At least i can go and have a chat with her incase i ever need to visit her again, god forbid! And so i got ready. I put on my nicest outfit. I slicked on a little eyeshadow and mascara (i dont wear foundation, powder, blusher or any of that stuff) and strutted out to my car like John Travolta walking down the streets of Brooklyn in Nightfever. I was sexy. And i loved it. My dermatologist Dr. Carr was lovely. Thoughtful, considerate, honest and helpful. She listened as i remenisced (past tense? surely not? acne? past tense? this couldnt be) about how my acne had been so bad i was emotionally distraught and withdrawn from anything remotely realistic. She informed me of a treatment called Accutane (isotretinoin), known as the wounder drug and possibly the cure to most, if not all cases of acne (sounded promising) that she could possibly prescribe me if my acne ever flared up again badly. 'Great' i thought. So if it ever returns, hopefully it wont, touch wood (somebody get me some wood!), i have a medicine that is designed for, and has been proven to prevent, acne. My life is fricken good!!!!
And so...present day. Acne has returned...with a vengence. Large cysts have formed on my face. Those annoying tiny, pinhead under-the-skin-pimples have once again dotted themselves all over the lower half of my mug (yes i have resorted to horrible slang names for my face as i no longer consider it a thing of beauty) and to top it off, i have been lied to by one of the practitioners in whom i am supposed to trust.
Remember Dr. Carr? The nice, thoughtful, considerate dermatologist i went to visit a while back? She has another identity! Oh yes...fraud! Fraud people! The lady that consultaded me about 3 months ago was a small, petite, Indian woman who i was lead to believe was Dr, M Carr. Oh noooooo. That she is not! She is some other dermatologist (who, just for the record, i prefer) would you believe. And so upon making an appointment a few weeks ago to visit 'Dr. Carr' again, imagine my shock when in walked a middle aged, white woman with a very British accent! In the name of all things holy i nearly dropped off my seat. She must have thought i'd seen a ghost. My face literally slumped when she introduced herself. I couldnt believe it. To make matters worse she didnt give a shit (pardon my French). She gave my medical notes a brief glance and then recommended, what seemed like to me, a topical treatment plucked from obscurity! In fact, i'd never even heard of it! And i know my stuff when it comes to skin. I've spent years researching acne, acne treatments, acne sufferes behaviour, aswel as observing my own various reactions to acne treatments and becoming aware of what will fulfill my personal acne needs and requirements. I'm not stupid...and i also have an opinion...which, she didnt like. I could tell there was bad chemistry between myself and this woman the moment she walked into the room. I couldnt wait to get out.
Tears filled my eyes as i TRIED to tell her all about my long term suffering. My voice croaked as i mentioned to her all of the treatments that i have undertaken over the years...all in vain. My eyes darted the room as i struggled to maintain any sort of physical contact with this...IMPOSTER (well not really as she is the 'real' Dr. Carr but...well...i just dont like the woman)...all to which had no effect. She proceeded to tell me that i should try Doxycycline...a member of the Tetracycline family...which has been known to prevent acne forming as it kills surface bacteria and slows down oil production. I wasnt impressed or convinced. I wanted Accutane...and i wanted it now. The previous dermatologist had assured me she would put me on this high potency drug that would, for sure, clear up my acne...i needed to see her...not this rude woman. You may think i am being a little unkind. If only you could have been in the room with me. She never once asked me how i felt. She never even raised an eyebrow when i TRIED to tell her about how much of an impact acne has on my life. The cheeky thing even left the room before i was finished talking to her. I was fuming. And so after being told i was not a suitable candidate for Accutane as my skin wasnt severe enough and doctors could not just prescribe this expensive drug, and i quote, 'willy-nilly', i reluctantly left with a sour looking face and a prescription for a 1 a day, 50mg, 3 month dose of Doxycycline. Great.
Why are you so desperate to try Accutane i hear you cry? Because after many, many, many days and nights researching effective and long term acne 'cures', i always seem to stumble upon this little well known beauty. And, after all, i was told i could try this 'last-resort' drug if my acne ever returned. And that it has. With all medicine's i am prescribed, i research them first before i put them in my system. I need to familiarise myself with what i am relying on. Crazy i know. And so the idea of Accutane was planted firmly in my head. And there it is staying until i get my way. Yes, i am stubborn.
And so i continue with my lifes daily struggle. I am 3 weeks in to my 3 month course of Doxycycline and i am far from impressed. It's made my acne worse, it makes me feel nauceous, but above all i f-ing hate it. I know it's not going to work. I know my own skin and i'm saying this confidently...it aint the 'cure'. It aint even a short term 'cure'. It's just a big ol' pain in my ass! I cannot bare to continue with a treatment that i know is not going to be beneficial. I also cannot return to Dr. Carr after her shocking display of rudeness! And so...i have altered the previously mentioned. I have changed dermatologists in hopes the new practitioner will offer better advice, information and a correct course of treatment suitable to my needs.
So there you have it. If you've made it this far...i thank you. I really wanted to share my story and continue to share my progress throughout my 'new life' that has started today, with you. If you've made it this far without coffee...i praise you. I've had three cups already (note to self...take some sleeping pills before you retire to bed. You'll never sleep otherwise)!
Please leave any comments you may have or drop me a personal e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome anything, anyone has to say.